John Feehery: Speaking Engagements

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Carve Out

Posted on April 25, 2013
US House Energy and Commerce Committee meeting to consider amendments to the health care reform bill HR 3200

Committee staff members can keep the health care that they currently have.



He who has the pen makes the rules.

That is especially true when it comes to Congress.

Obamacare was controversial when the President signed it into law.

Because of the Obamacare, Republicans were able to seize back control of House with the largest midterm victory since the 1930's.

The law was controversial because it will sharply shape one of the largest and fastest-growing segment of the economy, health care.

One of the primary features of this controversial law was the creation of health care exchanges.  These exchanges are government-supported and government-mandated health care insurance markets.

Nobody is really sure how they will work.  And the government has had a whale of a time actually setting them up.  Some state governments have cooperated with the Obama White House while other state governments have washed their hands of the entire concept.

These health care exchanges might be a complete disaster.  Max Baucus called them a "train wreck."

Senator Chuck Grassley voted against the entire law (as did every Republican), but one provision he successfully added to it was the concept that Members of Congress and their staff would be forced to join the exchanges.

That's good politics and it makes sense.  If the exchanges don't work, Congress would have a front seat in seeing why they didn't work and they could fix them.   Congress gets a lot of grief from their constituents because they tend to do a pretty good job of making sure their benefits are generous.

Representatives get a good pension and they get Cadillac health care benefits.  Or at least they did get Cadillac health care benefits up until the Grassley provision made it into the final law.

The interesting thing about that provision is that it was drafted by Committee staff.  And guess who gets an exemption from having to enter an Obamacare health care exchange?  Why, it is committee staffers, of course.

So, if you are a normal Congressional staff member or if you are a Member of Congress, you will be forced to join an exchange at the end of this year (or whenever these exchanges actually get off the ground).  If you are a committee staff member, you can keep the health care that you currently have.

Congressional Democrats (and some Republicans I bet) want to change that.  They don't want to take the exemption away from Committee Staff.  That would be too easy.  No, they want the same exemption as the Committee Staff get.

I have a better idea.  Why don't we exempt the entire country from the train wreck health care exchanges that aren't even set up yet?

How would we do that?  How about by repealing the whole dumb law?  That would be my solution.